The half-way point of the Track is the historic mill town of Donnelly River Village (DRV) nestled in the valley of the river from which it was named. DRV is now a holiday village famed for its tame wildlife and tranquil forest setting.
The village takes you back to the 1950s with an original steam mill, 35 worker’s cottages, Old Boarding House, workers club and the general store.
The town was named for the river which flows through it, which in turn was named by Governor James Stirling after Admiral Ross Donnelly, a friend of his wife's family and Rear Admiral of the Red. Although the town was officially called Wheatley the name Donnelly River is more commonly used.
The Donnelly River site was first used as a timber mill by the Wheatley family in 1912 to cut cross arms and telegraph poles, but it closed after two years. In 1947, Bunnings made plans to build a new mill on the Wheatley site to work timber in new permit areas held by the company, with a steam engine purchased from Onkaparinga Woollen Mills in South Australia - Donnelly River became the only steam-driven mill in the South West, officially opening in 1951.
The mill and town subsequently provided employment and family homes for a large community for nearly 30 years - many of these families have remained in the district. It was shut down in 1978 as part of a Forests Department policy to close less efficient mills, and is now heritage-listed.
Enjoy a latte on the verandah on the General Store and get to know the locals – a large number of very tame kangaroos and emus.
The Donnelly River swimming hole, 500 metres from the Village, is a great spot for a swim.
Up & down the Track
Balingup is 57.2km north of DRV – a 50 minute drive. The walk between DRV and Balingup (56.2km) takes three days.
Pemberton is 57.6km south of DRV – a drive of approx. one hour and ten minutes. The walk between Pemberton and DRV (101.6km) usually takes five days.